The Royal National Lifeboat Institution first placed a lifeboat at Clacton-on-Sea in 1878. The boat , donated by the Freemasons of England, was transported free of charge by the Great Eastern Railway to Weeley, the nearest station to Clacton at the time, and from there by horse and cart to the town where a boathouse had been specially constructed at Anglefield.
The naming ceremony took place on the 10th July 1878 to a alleged crowd of 12,000 at a time when the population of the new town was only a few hundred. Miss Wool, a daughter of the Clacton's first Lifeboat Committee Chairman, named the Lifeboat “Albert Edward” in honour of the then Prince of Wales, later to become King Edward VII. The Prince maintained a personal interest in the boat and at the branches Annual Dinner, held at the Royal Hotel in 1883, presented a joint of beef to the crew.
In those early days when called on service, the "Albert Edward" required pulling along Marine Parade East and down Pier Gap before being launched into the North Sea. It took six horses to achieve this, the same horses that were used to mobilise Clacton's Fire Engine, and it was not long before the animals learnt to tell the difference between the sound of the fire bells and the rockets. On hearing the sound of one they would set forth in theright direction unaided.Such was the local interest, and to enable preparation for the return of the lifeboat, a rocket would be fired as the Albert Edward came into view. The crew hoisted a flag from her topmast to indicate that there were ship wrecked souls on board as there was no better way of relaying information in those days.
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